Campaign Committees Convene at Yale’s New West Campus

During the April 10 meeting of the Yale Tomorrow Campaign Committees, attendees took a guided bus tour of the 136-acre Yale West Campus.

More than sixty members of the Yale Tomorrow Campaign Committees met April 9–10 in New Haven to discuss how the new West Campus will affect Yale and the Campaign.

The gathering started with a Wednesday-evening dinner at the School of Architecture gallery, hosted by Dean Robert A.M. Stern. The next morning, University Librarian Alice Prochaska hosted a breakfast and a tour of the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Library before committee members traveled to nearby West Haven and Orange, Connecticut for a walk-through of Yale West Campus, a former headquarters of Bayer Pharmaceuticals.

Yale President Richard C. Levin has described the West Campus acquisition as a once-in-a-century opportunity to boost science initiatives already under way at the University: “The addition of this ready-made, state-of-the-art research space will allow that growth to accelerate at an unprecedented level,” he said, “potentially making it possible for Yale scientists to develop new discoveries, inventions, and cures years earlier.”

“You have to see it to get it.”

From the beginning, science has been a core priority of the Yale Tomorrow campaign, and committee members have been closely apprised of the West Campus purchase. But nearly every guest expressed astonishment at the size, scope, and quality of the 136-acre complex and over 500,000 square feet of prime research space. Campaign Co-chair G. Leonard Baker, Jr. ’64 spoke for his fellow committee members when he described the difference between reading about the West Campus in a report and actually touring the site. “You have to see it to get it,” he said.

In the complex’s 250-seat auditorium, Provost Andrew Hamilton, who also serves as the Benjamin Silliman Professor of Chemistry, addressed the committees about the principles guiding the plans now unfolding for West Campus. He emphasized that the new property would not be spill-over space for existing programs needing extra room, but rather a place where fundamentally new, cutting-edge science could unfold.

Already, Yale is fast at work to bring this vision to light. The University is planning to establish a cluster of research institutes similar in concept to MIT’s Whitehead Institute or the Broad Institute at Harvard. The institutes will build on Yale’s existing strengths in biomedical science and open a path to new discoveries.

Hamilton was also quick to point out that Yale West Campus has great potential beyond science, with discussions under way regarding the arts, collections storage and conservation, clinical medicine, public education programs, and more.

A Campaign within a Campaign

Inge T. Reichenbach, vice president for Development, then spoke about the challenges and opportunities posed by the serendipitous acquisition—and how solutions might be funded. “This will be a campaign within a campaign,” she said, “and it will continue in some fashion beyond the formal close of Yale Tomorrow in 2011.” As part of this ongoing effort, Yale will seek funds for scientific equipment, innovative programs, and faculty recruitment.

Following Reichenbach’s remarks, committee members broke into smaller groups to discuss the potential of the new Yale West Campus and to provide input and ideas on how opportunities surrounding the acquisition might be incorporated into the Yale Tomorrow campaign.

(May 5, 2008)

May 5, 2008